What the pre-draft scouting reports said about Browns first-round pick Greg Newsome

Jeff Risdon
·5 min read

Browns fans are excited over the team’s first-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft, Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome. The athletically gifted corner seems like an excellent pick at No. 26 overall.

The pre-draft scouting reports on Newsome reinforce that perception. In looking over what was written about Newsome by prominent draft analysts before anyone knew what team would select him, the decision by Browns GM Andrew Berry and the team to choose Newsome looks even better.

Here’s a sampling from some of the top pre-draft guides and their evaluation of Newsome…

NFL.com

Draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote a fairly extensive list of strengths and weaknesses for Newsome and his career at Northwestern. He summarized it with this meaty blurb,

Long-limbed cornerback with angular frame and disruptive size and strength. Newsome is well-versed in Cover 3, quarters coverage and press man. He’s equally adept at each, too. It’s hard to get a gauge on his overall long speed, as most of the throws his way were underneath, but it’s worth noting that he’s above average with ball tracking and body positioning to defend the deep throw. While the takeaway totals are nothing special, his length, timing and sheer competitiveness make tape study of the contested catches he’s allowed for completions a very short watch. He has the footwork and skill level to cover downfield without getting into receivers prematurely, but for now, those pass interference penalties from press-man are a concern. Newsome is a competitive, scheme-diverse outside cornerback with good size, speed and explosiveness. He has the talent to become a good starter within his first two seasons.

The Athletic/Dane Brugler

Dane Brugler from The Athletic ranked Newsome as his No. 3 cornerback in his renowned “Beast”, one of the most respected draft books around. Here’s what Brugler had to say about Newsome,

With his agile footwork and anticipation, Newsome attaches himself to receivers and stays under control in coverage. He has terrific eyes to sort and make plays, but he needs to turn the pass break-ups into interceptions.

Overall, Newsome comes with durability concerns, especially against the rigors of the NFL, but he is a route magnet with fluid transitions and natural instincts. He projects as a press-man NFL starter as a rookie.

Pro Football Focus

The good folks at PFF used bullet points more than traditional writing to summarize each player. For Newsome they offered some pros and cons in their draft guide.

  • Very patient zone eyes. Not getting caught out of position

  • Exceptional at playing deep to shallow. Allowed
    one catch on 15 targets of 10+ yards in 2020

  • Feet that can dance. No clunkiness to his game

  • Very little closing juice. Not many plays athletically
    that open your eyes

  • Slight frame. Jostled around by receivers downfield too easily

  • Saw very little legit WR talent outside of Ohio State game in 2020

It’s an honest mixed bag, a process PFF went through with every player.

Mel Kiper Jr./ESPN

Mel does most of his work on radio and television these days instead of writing reports. Here’s what he had to say in one of his pre-draft conference calls about Newsome,

“He’s a solid player. When you look at him on tape, he’s a very consistent player. Instinctively, he’s a very good player. He’s a smart kid. I thought he was very impressive in coverage. He stuck to the receivers and he’s got a good turning motion and locates the football. He’s put together two really good years and he’s got a lot of really good experience,” Kiper stated.

“You’d like to see more than one career interception. I thought about putting him in the late first round, but I’d project him right now as an early-to-mid second. He’s not going to get out of Round 2.”

Ourlads

Former NFL scout Dan Shonka has run Ourlads for years and it produces NFL-styled reports on all the players. Here’s some of what they said about Newsome,

Adept at balancing routes and reading the delivery key both in Cover 2 and 3. Excellent lateral movement to cover ground and close voids in zones. Solid press corner he uses his length to jam and disrupt routes at the line. In off coverage he has a low fluid pedal and easily changes speeds to maintain cushion. Smooth in transition he times his turn and run along with his speed to stay in phase on vertical routes. No wasted movement changing directions. Sudden to break on the throw he uses his length to get to the catch point. He got his hands on ten balls in a shortened
season. Willing in run support he can be physical working against a stalk block and can gather and tackle in space.

While physical at times he has some trouble shedding a block and can get locked up in a stalemate. Once in a while goes for the big play on the ball and misses. Needs some work in playing the ball for the interception. In three seasons Newsome has played in 21 games missing time each year with injuries.

Browns Wire

We profiled Newsome early on in the draft season. To summarize the “overall” section,

Newsome has the most consistent coverage skills of any CB in this draft class. He can win in man or zone coverage and handle all types of outside receivers. Newsome has the physical tools to be an island corner on the outside, but he also fits very well into a Cover-1-3 shell.

The missed games and frame are a legit concern. His body doesn’t appear capable of carrying more mass without inhibiting his athleticism. The tackling could be better, but the bigger issue in the NFL will be his instinctive grabbing at receivers who try and cross his face.

We concluded with this assessment,

“But if health isn’t a concern, Newsome is the best cover corner in this draft class for my money and should be off the board before the Browns pick at No. 26 overall. Should be. If he’s not off the board, he needs to be a serious consideration.”